April 19, 2022
An industry historically dominated by men – with only one woman to 21 men at the CEO level – the hospitality space has been getting a much-needed revamp from a group of outstanding women running everything from hotel groups to boutique properties. Throughout Women’s History Month in March, Selfbook spoke with several of the incredible women we are privileged to work with. We also hosted a Women in Fintech x Hospitality panel to celebrate the people transforming an industry that has been in need of change for decades.
At Selfbook, we are committed to creating an equal and inclusive workplace, and are proud of our gender demographics at the intersection of industries that have long been male-dominated. To date, Selfbook’s team is 40% female, with 43% of our leadership team being women, and we are dedicated to becoming an increasingly diverse company every day. Selfbook is proud to work with an amazing group of women outside of the company as well, including hotel owners, brand directors, and group presidents, who are working to transform the space and make it more inclusive for all.
As Ariela Goharik Kiradjian, Partner and COO at The Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association, tells us, “The hospitality industry is rapidly changing. In some ways we take a big step forward, and in some ways we take a big step back. I do see a very bright future though for our industry in terms of progress as the community of awakened minds begins to grow bigger and bigger. Community is more important than ever in the hospitality industry and it’s up to those of influence to ensure that there is a safe space for everyone to flourish in the industry. I really believe that there is room for everyone and it’s all about collaboration over competition.”
From the way hotels are managed to the booking experiences hotels provide, so much has been in need of an update, and these women are creating lasting change. In Goharik Kiradjian’s words, building safe spaces for collaboration and mentorship, and always welcoming new ideas to the table from a wide variety of viewpoints, is key to developing our industry.
Lil Newman, Senior Director of Marketing at The LINE & Saguaro Hotels, echoed Goharik Kiradjian’s thoughts during Selfbook’s panel discussion: “Having a seat at the table and a voice in the room has long been a challenge for women in our sector. Many of the executive teams at companies I’ve worked for have been predominantly male, and I started my career taking notes rather than being the person interjecting, taking part in the conversation and strategizing. As my career has developed, I have positioned myself as a subject matter expert and led projects where I’m the person in the room to share my insight on what’s going on in specific fields.”
As the hospitality industry continues to evolve and expand – to mingle with the world of fintech, in Selfbook’s case – the opportunities to become an expert on a subject and to lead the conversation are growing exponentially.
Amanda Frasier, EVP of Standards and Ratings at Forbes Travel Guide, sees the future of hospitality as one that holds a lot of promise for those who want to build unique careers, saying, “What makes me most proud of our industry is the fact that for individuals with a variety of skills and career aspirations, hospitality continues to afford ever-evolving inspiration. From entry level to executive suite, and everything in between, you really can forge your own path, no matter your background or education. It is particularly inspirational to see the growing number of women in our industry moving into significant leadership roles, providing a crucial positive impression for the next generation of leaders across all sectors of hospitality.”
Generational inspiration, and having mentors to look up to and be guided by, is a crucial part of the formula. Seeing a diverse cast of leaders at the helm of one’s organization and being able to go to them for advice is a key building block to any employee’s development, regardless of the career stage they are at.
Newman highlights her sisters as providing great guidance and inspiration for her own career, stating, “I am one of four girls, so they are a big part of my support system personally and professionally. Two of them work in hospitality as well, and my older sister brought me over to SBE. My little sister works in hospitality marketing too. I feel like I advise her a bit, but we all support one another. A couple of my bosses along the way, particularly from Sydell and SBE, have been great champions of my career growth and are still mentors of mine today.”
She followed up expressing her own team’s efforts towards creating a similar environment of mutual encouragement at The LINE and Saguaro: “A big thing for our team, which we’re building back slowly, is advocating for each other, celebrating the achievements of the women on our team, and being mentors to one another.”
As both our team and community of partners continue to grow at Selfbook, we look forward to building an increasingly inclusive network and to applying the lessons shared by the incredible women we work with today. We are eager to help improve upon the industry’s diversity and to contributing to a future where collaboration, mentorship, and equality across leadership roles are key pillars in the hospitality space.
By Haley Crawford